...from the beginning.
This is about organic beekeeping and follows strict precepts:
Welcome to a work in progress - revision of late winter 2014. The full beekeeping menu has been disabled for construction. The main update - the native plant program - commences below. For continuity and background, the old page on honey bee nutrition is provided.
In the last episode we left the honey bees in a drought searching for forage, and the beekeeper pondering the ways and means and seeds to plant more for them. Habitat restoration and increase looks to become a requisite, coping beekeeping skill; but a fascinating one.
Spring and early summer is a time of managing queens and arranging for honey. When midsummer drought interferes, progress is slowed or stops. Nucleus colonies started from queen rearing remain small from lack of forage; sometimes those colonies must be recombined in the fall else they are doomed. In persistent drought, it is in the second season, having survived winter, that a nucleus becomes a strong colony from the relative abundance of spring nectar flows. The adversity compels refined methods of keeping honey bees.
Drought-stressed plants may blossom, but produce little or no nectar. A honey bee flying among blossoms but not landing is not finding nectar; if she lands for just a couple of seconds, nectar is scant. Only if the honey bee spends 5-6 seconds per blossom, and visits many blossoms on a plant, is that plant producing adequate nectar.
To be effective, pollinator forage must produce nectar, and to produce nectar reliably it must have a certain amount of water. Drought tolerant native species planted along the margins of watered crops should catch sufficient overspray and wind borne water to be effective.
That is the premise we're working on near the apiaries. The seed bank link is a report on the first year.
The hope is, if the honey bees are seen to profit from this - in terms of health, strength and honey - their pollinator kin will also prosper, wherever and however they may abide in the local ecosystem.
Thank you for being here. From the honey bees, too.
We could rant on and on about what the world is doing to our honey bees; turns out, we could rant equally about how native plants are being lost. Instead, it's much more interesting to propagate those native plants, while cultivating a diversity of forage.
Keeping sometimes difficult native plants is not unlike keeping honey bees - both requiring the application of experience and study.